Sunday 26 January 2020

Man arrested in Drenthe farmhouse mystery is not the father, mayor says

The farmhouse where the family was found. Photo Herman Engbers via HH

Police in Drenthe are trying to unravel the mystery of a group of adults, mainly in their teens or 20s, who were living in an isolated farmhouse for nine years, apparently waiting for ‘the end of time’.

Roger de Groot, mayor of the village of Ruinerwold, told a news conference on Tuesday afternoon that the 58-year-old man who had been arrested was not the father of the young adults as earlier reported but did rent the farmhouse from its owner.

De Groot declined to comment on reports that the police had been called to the farmhouse on earlier occasions. They were alerted this weekend by the barman of a local cafe, who was concerned about the disheveled state of a young man who came in and said he needed help.

‘The police assessed the situation and found a number of rooms with makeshift furnishings where the family lived a withdrawn existence. That is where the six were found,’ De Groot said. It is still unclear whether there were five or six children and if their actual father was with them.

Austrian

The children had no contact with the outside world and lived completely self-sufficiently with their own vegetable garden and a goat. No neighbours reported knowing the family and one neighbour told RTV Drenthe he thought the man, who had boarded up all the farm windows, lived there alone.

Several of the young adults had not been registered with the authorities, the mayor said.

Locals said they saw the man driving around in an old car but had not seen anyone else. One neighbour told the Telegraaf he thought the man was Austrian and that he spoke German.

‘He was very sharp,’ the neighbour said. ‘You only had to come close to the property and he would send you away. He used binoculars to keep an eye on everything.’

The village of Ruinerwold lies some six kilometres from Meppel and has a population of just under 4,000 people.

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